Business

Presence Checklist for Small Business Owners (Part 2)

Presence Checklist for Small Business Owners (Part 2) 1000 667 Susan Rapaglia

The Good News? You’re Halfway There!

The Benefit of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful and free online tool you can (and should) connect to your website. It can help you analyze how many people are visiting your website each day, at what stage of the purchasing process website visitors are dropping off, what websites and social media platforms are doing best at referring readers over to your site and so much more. Having this data gives you tangible information that can go a long way in helping you to make decisions that grow your business.

To get started with Google Analytics, visit their information page on this topic here.

For a more in-depth explanation of key Google Analytics metrics we think you should understand, check out our earlier blog post. 

Want to build an optimized, beautiful website but not sure where to start? We’re here to help! Reach out to us–we’d love to learn about your business, understand your short-term business goals and long term vision and build you a high-quality website.

Get Your Free Google My Business Listing 

Free? Oh yes, free! If you have a physical location for your business, or travel to where your customers are, sign up to get a free Google My Business listing. 

This tool allows you to manage how people see your business information, and can help you appear when someone is searching for your type of business nearby. You’re able to add your business name, hours, location, contact information and a menu if relevant to your business, as well as the ability to respond to reviews. 

For a deeper dive into Google My Business, check out this blog post.

Make Your Branding Cohesive

First, let’s talk about what branding is—because it’s not simply a “cool” logo. Branding refers to any touchpoint with your business: everything your brand does, and what it stands for, how it operates, what you produce and how someone would describe your brand to someone who’s never heard of you before. Your branding identity is a visual representation of your brand: the color palette you choose, fonts and logo design, etc.

These are inherently tied together but having a clear idea of what your brand is, and essentially why you believe your products and/or services will be sought after and valued, can help tremendously in designing your brand identity.

Again, if you have no experience in graphic design, don’t have a clue how to translate your brand to its visual representation or are planning on using Microsoft Word to create your brand identity, we would very kindly urge you to please don’t DIY this. 

How potential customers perceive your brand is extremely important and having a quality logo, signage, marketing material, packaging etc. goes a long way toward establishing the credibility of your business. This is one area that’s really important to invest in.

Lead Capture Mechanism (Build That Email List!)

When all else fails, (i.e. if your social media accounts get hacked and you lose all the content you’ve been working so hard on), your email newsletter is an excellent way to reach out to your customers and keep them engaged. By having an email capture pop-up on your site or exchanging quality content for a site visitor’s email you can gauge interest in the content you’re creating and products and/or services that you’re providing. 

Tip: Consistency is key when sending out your email newsletters. It by no means has to be a weekly occurrence, but by sending out emails that provide helpful, interesting and engaging content to your list at a cadence they can rely on, you will build trustworthiness and rapport among customers that already have shown initial interest in your product and/or service.

The Power of Social Platforms

Social media is where your customers hang out, find inspiration and share information with each other. According to statista.com, in the United States “an estimated 244 million people used social media in 2018.” Worldwide, that number is around 2.34 billion and is expected to grow to around 2.95 billion by 2020. 

With nearly a third of the world’s population on social platforms today, why pass up on this dynamic opportunity to connect with your customers? Instagram, as we say, is “2019’s version of a first impression.” Using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms to meet your customers where they are gives you an opportunity to learn about what they’re interested in, what problems they need solutions to and what content they love in a really organic format. 

Get started on Instagram today with these tips on building your audience, executing your aesthetic, and using the platform strategically…never post just to post! 

Tip: “Influencers,” aka people with a large social following who visit your business, try out a product or service, and share their experience, can truly step up your business’ growth. You can tap into their loyal and engaged fan

The Case For High Quality Visuals—Schedule a PROFESSIONAL Photo Shoot

Smartphone snaps are not going to cut it, especially in today’s competitive social landscape. Resolution will never be as clear as a photo taken on a DSLR camera shot on RAW. Again, visuals are everything and you don’t want to cut corners here. Do some research and find a photographer who specializes in brand photography, product or food photography, whatever relates to your business…because there’s nothing more painful than a beautiful website with blurry, pixelated images dispersed throughout. 

Consistency in coloration, setting and a variety of shots is so, so important. We recommend you have a minimum of 20 unique shots for your website. These images can also be repurposed for social media, newsletters, etc. so it’s well worth the investment.

Reputation is Everything

If you’ve signed up for Google My Business, have a Yelp Business account or something similar, maintain your presence on these accounts by taking the time to respond to feedback from customers. Whether it’s a positive or negative review, responding shows both your customers and potential customers that you are invested in your business and interested in providing the best possible experience, even after the business transaction is over. 

DO NOT allow negative reviews to pile up, these can sink your business and leave you looking like you don’t care about your customers. 

Tip: Schedule time in 2-3 times a week to check your review platforms and respond to customers in a timely manner. Receiving notifications on your phone or computer about reviews is a good way to keep on top of customer feedback.

In Real Life: Collaborate With Your (Biz) Community

Still struggling to get the word out about your business? Teaming up with another business locally that aligns with yours can be a mutually beneficial way to grow awareness for your brand. Place your products in a coffee shop, offer a workshop at a local co-working space, attend networking events and share your story with the audience. 

There’s lots of ways to build relationships locally that can help others to be advocates for your brand. Take the time to get out and do the work. You’ll never know where opportunity can present itself (hint–everywhere). Research local business networking chapters to find your niche, or check out the countless groups on Meetup.com.

Bonus: Set Aside an Advertising Budget

You’ve put in all the work, checked off all the boxes. Let search engines and social platforms do some work for you by advertising your product or service to potential customers. Our Digital Project Manager, Max Pete, recommends a budget of $250-$500 to start with an advertising campaign. 

Don’t know where to start with advertising? Read this five minute piece on how to create impactful Google Ads without spending more money. 

Feeling overwhelmed? We offer digital advertising as part of our scalable services targeted to your unique business. Reach out to us for more information, we’d love to chat!

Thanks for coming to our Ted Talk 😉

Presence Checklist for Small Business Owners (Part 2)

Presence Checklist for Small Business Owners (Part 2) 1200 800 Susan Rapaglia

The Good News? You’re Halfway There!

The Benefit of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful and free online tool you can (and should) connect to your website. It can help you analyze how many people are visiting your website each day, at what stage of the purchasing process website visitors are dropping off, what websites and social media platforms are doing best at referring readers over to your site and so much more. Having this data gives you tangible information that can go a long way in helping you to make decisions that grow your business.

To get started with Google Analytics, visit their information page on this topic here.

For a more in-depth explanation of key Google Analytics metrics we think you should understand, check out our earlier blog post. 

Want to build an optimized, beautiful website but not sure where to start? We’re here to help! Reach out to us–we’d love to learn about your business, understand your short-term business goals and long term vision and build you a high-quality website.

Get Your Free Google My Business Listing 

Free? Oh yes, free! If you have a physical location for your business, or travel to where your customers are, sign up to get a free Google My Business listing. 

This tool allows you to manage how people see your business information, and can help you appear when someone is searching for your type of business nearby. You’re able to add your business name, hours, location, contact information and a menu if relevant to your business, as well as the ability to respond to reviews. 

For a deeper dive into Google My Business, check out this blog post.

Make Your Branding Cohesive

First, let’s talk about what branding is—because it’s not simply a “cool” logo. Branding refers to any touchpoint with your business: everything your brand does, and what it stands for, how it operates, what you produce and how someone would describe your brand to someone who’s never heard of you before. Your branding identity is a visual representation of your brand: the color palette you choose, fonts and logo design, etc.

These are inherently tied together but having a clear idea of what your brand is, and essentially why you believe your products and/or services will be sought after and valued, can help tremendously in designing your brand identity.

Again, if you have no experience in graphic design, don’t have a clue how to translate your brand to its visual representation or are planning on using Microsoft Word to create your brand identity, we would very kindly urge you to please don’t DIY this. 

How potential customers perceive your brand is extremely important and having a quality logo, signage, marketing material, packaging etc. goes a long way toward establishing the credibility of your business. This is one area that’s really important to invest in.

Lead Capture Mechanism (Build That Email List!)

When all else fails, (i.e. if your social media accounts get hacked and you lose all the content you’ve been working so hard on), your email newsletter is an excellent way to reach out to your customers and keep them engaged. By having an email capture pop-up on your site or exchanging quality content for a site visitor’s email you can gauge interest in the content you’re creating and products and/or services that you’re providing. 

Tip: Consistency is key when sending out your email newsletters. It by no means has to be a weekly occurrence, but by sending out emails that provide helpful, interesting and engaging content to your list at a cadence they can rely on, you will build trustworthiness and rapport among customers that already have shown initial interest in your product and/or service.

The Power of Social Platforms

Social media is where your customers hang out, find inspiration and share information with each other. According to statista.com, in the United States “an estimated 244 million people used social media in 2018.” Worldwide, that number is around 2.34 billion and is expected to grow to around 2.95 billion by 2020. 

With nearly a third of the world’s population on social platforms today, why pass up on this dynamic opportunity to connect with your customers? Instagram, as we say, is “2019’s version of a first impression.” Using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms to meet your customers where they are gives you an opportunity to learn about what they’re interested in, what problems they need solutions to and what content they love in a really organic format. 

Get started on Instagram today with these tips on building your audience, executing your aesthetic, and using the platform strategically…never post just to post! 

Tip: “Influencers,” aka people with a large social following who visit your business, try out a product or service, and share their experience, can truly step up your business’ growth. You can tap into their loyal and engaged fan

The Case For High Quality Visuals—Schedule a PROFESSIONAL Photo Shoot

Smartphone snaps are not going to cut it, especially in today’s competitive social landscape. Resolution will never be as clear as a photo taken on a DSLR camera shot on RAW. Again, visuals are everything and you don’t want to cut corners here. Do some research and find a photographer who specializes in brand photography, product or food photography, whatever relates to your business…because there’s nothing more painful than a beautiful website with blurry, pixelated images dispersed throughout. 

Consistency in coloration, setting and a variety of shots is so, so important. We recommend you have a minimum of 20 unique shots for your website. These images can also be repurposed for social media, newsletters, etc. so it’s well worth the investment.

Reputation is Everything

If you’ve signed up for Google My Business, have a Yelp Business account or something similar, maintain your presence on these accounts by taking the time to respond to feedback from customers. Whether it’s a positive or negative review, responding shows both your customers and potential customers that you are invested in your business and interested in providing the best possible experience, even after the business transaction is over. 

DO NOT allow negative reviews to pile up, these can sink your business and leave you looking like you don’t care about your customers. 

Tip: Schedule time in 2-3 times a week to check your review platforms and respond to customers in a timely manner. Receiving notifications on your phone or computer about reviews is a good way to keep on top of customer feedback.

In Real Life: Collaborate With Your (Biz) Community

Still struggling to get the word out about your business? Teaming up with another business locally that aligns with yours can be a mutually beneficial way to grow awareness for your brand. Place your products in a coffee shop, offer a workshop at a local co-working space, attend networking events and share your story with the audience. 

There’s lots of ways to build relationships locally that can help others to be advocates for your brand. Take the time to get out and do the work. You’ll never know where opportunity can present itself (hint–everywhere). Research local business networking chapters to find your niche, or check out the countless groups on Meetup.com.

Bonus: Set Aside an Advertising Budget

You’ve put in all the work, checked off all the boxes. Let search engines and social platforms do some work for you by advertising your product or service to potential customers. Our Digital Project Manager, Max Pete, recommends a budget of $250-$500 to start with an advertising campaign. 

Don’t know where to start with advertising? Read this five minute piece on how to create impactful Google Ads without spending more money. 

Feeling overwhelmed? We offer digital advertising as part of our scalable services targeted to your unique business. Reach out to us for more information, we’d love to chat!

Thanks for coming to our Ted Talk 😉

Presence Checklist for Small Business Owners (Part 1)

Presence Checklist for Small Business Owners (Part 1) 1200 800 Susan Rapaglia

Take a deep breath and just start!

When you’re building your business, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day stressors of making it work. Nevertheless, it’s vital that you take a step back and look at the whole picture—which should include a solid digital presence. Here at Coast Creative, most of what we do lives in the digital world, so we’ve created a pretty solid checklist for new clients. And that’s what we’re sharing today!

Your presence on the web could be the difference between customers pouring through your doors and having to shutter them for good. So take a deep breath and see how many of these line items you can check off. 

Based on our experience, for small business owners in this day and age, we highly recommend you have:

  1. A High-Quality Website (user experience, copy + visuals, SEO)
  2. Google Analytics
  3. Google My Business Listing (for brick-and-mortar stores or if you travel to your customers)
  4. Cohesive Branding
  5. A Lead Capture Mechanism (Email Sign-up)
  6. A Social Media Presence (Build Your Community)
  7. High-Quality Visual Content
  8. Reputation Management
  9. IRL (In Real Life): Community events & Collaborations

     Bonus: Ad Spend budget

Why Do I Need a Website?

A website is essentially your online store, a one-stop shop for all information about your business. If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar business, a website is even more necessary. You can make online sales, gather emails from interested customers and follow up with them later on, and write a blog that provides readers with quality information that can help them in their purchase decision-making process. There’s a lot more capabilities that come with having a website, in addition to providing a professional and authoritative online presence for your business.

What distinguishes a high-quality website?

To build a website that engages and excites your visitors, you need to think about the user experience, writing clear and concise copy, and including at least 15 to 20 unique, high resolution images specific to your brand/business (more on this later).

Breaking this down further, you should ask yourself:

  • What action(s) do I want visitors to take?
  • What should my tone be? Playful, authoritative, casual? What language represents my business and what doesn’t?
  • What must anyone understand about my business when they visit my website?
  • Is there a clear path to the end goal of having a visitor complete a purchase, sign-up for your newsletter, schedule a consultation or reach out for more information?

You should take the time to write out all the information you’d like to have included on the website. This should be done before design to help you understand how many pages you need, what information is most important and where you should place it, etc. And if you’re not a writer…don’t attempt to write all the final website copy yourself.

Being able to concisely and compellingly share your story and information about your products and/or services is HUGE.

Professional copywriters are great at what they do and trained to write persuasively using long-established copy techniques. If you know you’re not a writer, do some research and find someone who can help you reach that end-goal of launching your website with confidence.

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what’s not as important. But knowing what is can help you establish hierarchy on your site, from header font sizes and capitalization to a clean minimal footer with only the essential business information included. Picture a funnel and think about building your pages that way to create a website that’s visually appealing, intuitive and not jarring to your site visitors.

“Read Now”

Distributing call-to-action buttons throughout the website is a great way to give visitors opportunities to complete actions that lead them toward becoming actively interested in your product or service, willing to exchange personal information (i.e. an email address) in exchange for downloadable content, and ultimately purchasing a product or getting in contact with you to use your services.

Tip: Never include different call-to-actions simultaneously next to each other on the page. If they are the same action, i.e. “Reserve Now” right next to each other, that’s ok. Don’t have your visitors choose between two actions–that leads to confusion and non-action.

Search Engine Optimization Steps to Consider

Add a Meta-Description To Each Page: This should be a short sentence using the same keyword as the title of the page you’re working on, but it should not say exactly the same thing as what’s in that page’s content.

One Keyword Per Page (except on your home page): Optimize your website by including keywords throughout your site content so search engines can “crawl” it, or read and understand the contents of your site more easily. This will help your site to rank when someone is using those keywords to search.

To learn more, read this blog post on optimizing the most critical parts of your website from one of our favorite marketing resources, HubSpot.

Tip: Try to have at least 500 words per page as it applies to ensure you are providing enough quality content for both users and search engines to understand. Don’t write just to write. Make sure your content is helpful and engaging, first and foremost.

Thinking about where to build your website? For more information on the difference between popular website design platforms Squarespace and WordPress, check out our blog post.

Don’t worry, we’ve got the rest of the list coming soon! Stay tuned and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram to get the latest. 

Our Cause: Fit 4 Prevention

Our Cause: Fit 4 Prevention 2100 1400 Susan Rapaglia

When we founded Coast Creative, we knew we wanted to do good for our clients, and communities. So, we decided to find some amazing non-profits to work with and help these organizations achieve their goals.

The first charity that our team is honored to work with is Fit 4 Prevention. The fundraising arm of Keep A Breast Foundation, F4P was created to raise awareness about breast cancer prevention through fitness and wellness. Their goal is to get 1000 studios that raise $1000 each. Which means, yes, $1,000,000 raised for Keep A Breast.

According to the organization, Fit 4 Prevention is “a national movement to raise awareness about breast cancer prevention through fitness and wellness. Our goal is to inspire people to reduce their risk of cancers by adopting a healthier, more active lifestyle in a way that sparks their inner champion. We’re working with studios, gyms, and individuals around the country to raise funds and increase awareness for The Keep A Breast Foundation and our mission to empower young people around the world with breast health education and support.”

Coast Creative is assisting F4P with growing their social media following, additional studio and influencer outreach. We love getting to use our skillsets to help great organizations like Keep A Breast a well-deserved boost.